A Healthier Carrot Cake Cookie Sandwich

I am not really one to sit down and make resolutions, but the New Year feels like the perfect time to hit reset and get back on track with what is important to me. Lately my health has been front and centre and while I’m already healthy, there is always room for improvement! My intentions are to begin to learn about whole foods in a deeper way by really understanding their individual health benefits. I also want to experiment more with my cooking by using natural ingredients in new and exciting ways! But my main goal right now is to reduce how much refined sugar I eat, because I won’t lie, I really LOVE sugar! Being a big believer in balance I let myself indulge in the sweet stuff since I know I’m healthy the rest of the time, but with a history of diabetes in my family, my sugar cravings are beginning to worry me and I want to be more aware and careful. While I’m no where near wanting to quit sugar all together, I do want to try and eat more natural sugars so that when I have a craving for sweets, I can indulge in a little less harmful way! This sweet recipe is a great start!

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These cookies are a healthier twist on a version I attempted to make a while ago. I got a great shot for instagram out of it, see here, but tried making them while I had a friend over and ended up making chocolate cupcakes… I know, kind of ridiculous, but I was mindlessly looking at two recipes while chatting away…I pulled a Rachel Green from Friends! Remember her meat and whipped cream trifle?? At least mine ended up being delicious chocolate cupcakes which I was able to share with colleagues and friends. Let’s just say I’ve been very mindful while baking since.

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This weekend I finally got around to making my own version of these cookies. I swapped out the brown and white sugar for raw honey, maple syrup and a dash of molasses, adding natural sweetness. I also swapped out the butter for coconut oil, and omitted the egg for flaxseeds which when mixed with water creates an egg like substance, and has a ton of health benefits including being high in phytochemical’s, omega 3 and fiber! I was not sure how they would turn out, but was pleasantly surprised with the results! My original plan was to pair them with a vegan frosting, but I think I pushed it too far. The icing came out weird and didn’t really compliment the flavours of the cookies, so I went back to tradition and made a cream cheese frosting but without the butter. Match made in heaven! Not as “healthy” as I wanted but having only used 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, I figured, it’s not THAT bad right?

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Warm spices, sweet carrots and plump raisins make these cookies so comforting! I left out the rolled oats, but would love to add them in the next time I make these! If you like walnuts, those would be perfect in here as well, I just didn’t have any on hand. These cookies are soft and fluffy with a traditional carrot cake flavour and when paired with the cream cheese frosting sandwiched in between, it’s clear that these two flavours belong together (sorry vegan icing).

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Carrot Cake Cookies (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Makes about 12 sandwiches

1/4 cup raw honey
2 tbsp Molasses
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 tbsp flaxseed meal (which you can make yourself by grinding flaxseeds in a food processor)
3 tbsp warm water
1 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cups finely grated carrots, (about 1.5-2 large carrots)
1/2 cup raisins

Heres what you need to do:

1. In a small bowl, whisk the flaxseed meal and warm water with a whisk or fork and let sit for 5-10 min so it develops a gelatinous texture similar to a raw egg.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine honey, maple syrup, molasses and coconut oil; beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add flaxseed egg and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until well combined.

3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger; stir to combine. Gradually add flour to wet mixture; mix on a low speed until just blended. With a spatula, mix in carrots, and raisins. Chill dough in refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.

4. Meanwhile near the end of the cooling process, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside. Prepare cream cheese frosting (see below)

5. When the mixture has cooled completely, Using a 1/2-ounce ice-cream scoop, or a tablespoon scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Transfer to oven, and bake until browned and crisped, rotating pan halfway through baking to ensure even color, 8-10 minutes. Make sure not to let them burn.

6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat baking process with remaining dough. Once cooled completely, use an offset spatula to spread about 2 teaspoons of cream-cheese filling (see below) onto a cookie. Sandwich together with a second cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Cream Cheese Frosting

3/4 cups of cream cheese
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Here’s what you need to do:

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine all the ingredients on med- high speed until fluffy and well combined. You may have to scrape down the sides a couple of time. 2-4 minutes.

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10 Reasons Why I Love Figs

I love figs for many reasons, here are 10 of them.

1. They taste amazing

2. They are rich in minerals that contribute to health and wellness.

3. They are super versatile and can go well in sweet or savoury dishes.

4. They are beautiful to look at.

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Photo Sources {Left to Right} Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4, Middle Image, Image 5, Image 6

5. If you can’t find them fresh, dried figs are just as delicious.

6. They make a pretty centrepiece for your table.

7. They are super easy going and can be eaten raw, dried, baked, sautéed or pureed.

8. They are sweet but only from natural sugars (Candy you have met your match)

9. They are fun to photograph

10. They make me happy

So there you have it! Now I’m curious, What do you love about figs?

Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie

I am not one to write down my smoothie recipes, because most of the time I wing it depending on what I have in my freezer, fridge and pantry. The one thing I never let myself run out of is frozen bananas. It’s the perfect way to save those bananas that you buy that go brown before you can enjoy them. I peel them up, cut them in half and keep them in freezer bags ready to use for baking and… smoothies! I wrote this one down because it was just so delicious, and I ended up drinking it for breakfast for 4 days straight. It’s packed with delicious things, and uses the bananas and dates for a natural sweetness.

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Photo: Jessica Pevzner

 

Ingredients
3/4 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup of loosely chopped kale
3 Ice cubes
1 cup of nut milk or rice milk or any kind of milk you love
1/2 frozen banana
2 pitted dates
1 tbsp natural peanut butter
1/4 cup of rolled oats

Directions:
Always put the liquid in first and then add the rest of your ingredients. Pulse slowly to break up the chunks and then blend until smooth and enjoy!

What is your favourite smoothie recipe?

Simple Dinner – Smashed Egg Sandwich With Arugala and Cherry Tomatoes

Do you ever have those nights when you come home, and the last thing you want to think about is dinner? I had one of those the other day, and instead of caving and pulling out a box of cereal (like I usually do) I remembered reading a post called “Spinach and Smashed Egg Toast” on Smitten Kitchen, and it dawned on me… this may take me an extra 5 minutes, but it looks so worth it, and let’s face it, it’s way more balanced than a bowl of cereal. I didn’t have spinach in the fridge, but I did have arugala, and so it began, my new favorite quick and easy dinner.

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Photo Credit: Jessica Pevzner

Basically anything goes for this recipe. Whatever you have in your fridge can be added in. I had arugala, fresh garlic, cherry tomatoes and some crushed hot peppers, but I can imagine so many other delicious ingredients being thrown in such as asparagus and black olives (yum).

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Photo Credit: Jessica Pevzner

Ingredients:
2 large eggs
2 slices of your favorite hearty bread
1 cup or more of arugala
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 clove of garlic roughly chopped
4 cherry tomatoes sliced in half
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of your favorite Dijon mustard

Directions:

1. Fill a small pot with water and bring to a boil, add eggs in and cook for 5 minutes (this will achieve the liquidy consistency of the yolk).

2. Meanwhile, in a frying pan, add some olive oil and the hot pepper flakes and let it heat up on medium high heat.

3. Chop up the garlic and add to the oil stirring constantly, letting it brown (careful to not let it burn).

3. Slice 4 cherry tomatoes in half and add to the pan gently (you don’t want them to break up)

4. finally add about a cup of arugala and let it cook down, stirring gently.

5. Add salt and pepper to taste

5. Toast some bread (I love rye bread for this recipe)

6. Peel your eggs

7. Smother some of your favorite dijon on the toast, add the cooked mixture, smash the cooked egg gently on top, allowing the yellow yoke to drip all over and Enjoy!

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Photo Credit: Jessica Pevzner

Sometimes its the simple things in life that are the best!

Comfort Food: Apple & Butternut Squash Soup.

Despite my obsession with summer, I find myself looking forward to the cool crisp air that fall brings. I love dressing for fall, and eating for fall. I start craving comfort foods and begin cooking heartier meals this time of the year. During my weekend trip to the market, I bought a few squashes and decided to use one of them as a side dish, roasting it with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon (Yum). The other one, I wanted to save for a soup. Since apples are also in season (and better than ever), I decided that a roasted butternut squash and apple soup would be perfect choice!

This soup is really, really simple to make and will be sure to not only taste great but also make your house smell amazing. The smell of roasting squash, apples and onions is so comforting. Sometimes I make a large batch of this soup (or any homemade soup for that matter) and I freeze what I can’t eat right away in jars. That way I can pop them into my lunch the night before and they will be defrosted and ready to eat by noon the next day! What a perfect way to bring canned soup to work

yum!

Here is what you will need:

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple soup (Adapted from Barefoot Contessa)

1 large butternut squash

2 yellow onions

2 McIntosh apples (I used Empire apples because it’s what I had in my kitchen)

3 Tblsp of good olive oil.

kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

2 to 4 cups of chicken stock (homemade is best if you have the time)

1/2 tsp of good curry powder.

Scallions (white and green parts trimmed and sliced diagonally)

Here’s what to do:

First, Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Then, cut up the butternut squash, onions and apples into cubes and coat them with olive oil and season with a dash of salt and pepper. Spread this mixture out onto 2 baking sheets so that it’s all in a single layer. Bake the mixture for 35-45 minutes, tossing occasionally until very tender.

While this is roasting, bring the chicken stock to a simmer and puree the roasted vegetables. To this you will add some warm chicken stock until the veggies are corseley pureed. Place the pureed vegetables in a large pot with enough chicken stock to make a thick soup, add the curry powder, 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp pepper (or more to taste). I Served mine with a dollop of sour cream and scallions on top and it just added that beautiful finished look and flavour to the meal!

Hummus; The Homemade Way.

I love hummus! It’s the perfect snack, not only is it healthy, it’s also super tasty and delicious with vegetables, breads, crackers or in a sandwich! I love putting a bunch of fresh veggies in a pita with a ton of hummus for lunch, yum! This week, instead of grabbing one of those pre-made hummus’s at the grocery store, I grabbed a can of chickpeas and a bottle of tahini (that will last me a lifetime) and decided to make my very own homemade hummus!
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The process was way easier than I thought. It’s all about the order in which you mix the ingredients together, and it actually tasted better than the store bought hummus. (Obviously this is a matter of opinion, but try it out yourself and you’ll see.) By making it from scratch you know exactly what’s going into your food, and the added bonus? You save so much money!

You can go the extra mile and buy dried chickpeas, but I decided to skip that step and buy them in a can. I also skipped the step where you shell the chickpeas and opted to just throw them in as is. By shelling them it creates a creamier hummus, but leaving them on was just as good in my opinion, and it saved me 10 minutes and another mess to clean up!

Homemade Hummus Recipe (adapted from Inspired Taste)

Ingredients:
1 – 15-ounce can (425 grams) chickpeas
One large lemon about 1/4 cup (59 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup (59 ml) tahini (I used Clic but any will do)
A large garlic clove, roughly chopped
about 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving (this is not a science)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, depending on taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 to 3 tablespoons water
dash of ground cayenne for serving

Directions:
1. In a large bowl or food processor add lemon juice and tahini and process for about 1 minute, scrape the sides and continue to process for another minute. The result should be a whipped and creamy mixture!
2. Add the olive oil, cumin, salt, pepper and garlic to the whipped mixture and process for another minute.
3. open a can of chickpeas and drain them in a colander under cold water, add half of the chickpeas to the mixture and process until smooth then add the remaining chickpeas and repeat the process. (this should take about 1 to 2 minutes)
4. depending on your texture preference, if you find it too thick at this point, add water to the mixture while the processor is running to make the consistency just right. About 1 to 2 tablespoons should be enough.
5. Put the hummus in a dish, add some olive oil and a sprinkle of cayenne for color and flavour, serve and enjoy!

You can keep the hummus in a sealed container for up to a week!

Food Therapy; Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Coconut Cookies

When stress hits, everyone deals with it differently. Some take a walk, some read a book, others take a bath. I find that when I have had a rough day or I am feeling overwhelmed, all I need is a little food therapy. Once I start creating in the kitchen, my mind is completely focused on the task at hand and all of my days stress disappears! The greatest part is that I get a reward at the end… the delicious finished product to eat, enjoy and share with others!

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These easy Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Coconut cookies were my food therapy. They are not only easy to make and delicious to eat, they are also fairly healthy for a cookie. I substituted the 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of white sugar for 3/4 cup of pure maple syrup. You can find the rule for subbing maple syrup for sugar here!

These cookies came out great! They are so big and fluffy, filled with sweet banana, maple syrup, oats and a little added touch… coconut. Delicious!

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Coconut Cookies

Ingredients: (Adapted from Martha Stewart)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
3/4 cup (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup of pure maple syrup
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 large)
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about 1 cup)
1/4 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut (optional and add for your own taste)

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 355 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together flours, salt, and baking soda; set aside.
3. Put butter and maple syrup into a separate bowl and mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy.
4. Reduce speed to low, add egg and vanilla; mix until well combined.
5. Mix in the banana and add the flour mixture to it slowly; mix until just combined.
6. Fold in oats and chocolate chips.
7. Grease a cookie sheet with a bit of oil
8. Drop about a tablespoon of the mixture at a time onto the cookie sheet, carefully spacing them in order to give them room to expand (about 2 inches apart).
9. Bake cookies until golden brown or until a tooth pick comes out clean.
10.Let them set for 12 to 13 minutes and then transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely.

Cookies can be stored in airtight containers up to 2 days.